Congratulations go out to all who completed all 30 day's of the challenge, it is no small feat and you should be proud. You deserve to reward yourself, but this is the perfect opportunity to test how ingrained the "lifestyle portion" of the challenge has resonated with you.
If your idea of a reward is a day beginning with one of those Starbucks sugar bombs and ending with beer, pizza, and ice cream, complete with anything else you missed during the past 30 day's thrown in between, you might be missing the point. Again we want to challenge the way we look at food and food as celebration(especially crap food) is deeply engrained in our psyche. Be different this time. Reward yourself with a massage, get your hair or nails done, go for a hike. There are many ways to celebrate and reward yourself for what you have accomplished.
We truly hope that you are starting to take a more critical look at the foods you eat and their role in your overall health and well being. This exercise is more about a lifestyle and changes in long ingrained habits than it is a temporary challenge. We want you to analyze why you do certain things especially as they relate to your nutrition. Is it because it is easy or that is how it has always been done or because you have been following conventional wisdom, pushed on us by advertising from the huge companies that run the "heart healthy" grain, sugar, and dairy industries. Or is it because it is what is best for you and your family. There is a cultural shift that needs to happen and a reeducation that needs to take place. From one of ease and convenience and what has always been to one that focuses on what is best for the health and well being of you and your family. We had more people question the challenge this time around and we love that. Knowledge is power. Don't just accept what is pressed upon you as fact, do the work to learn about the foods you are eating and their effects on your health. Be your own experiment. Little things make a big difference. Change little things and big things happen. You have taken the first and most difficult steps of change. Don't let it all go to waste by slipping back into old way's.
To help you transition from the end of the challenge and learn a little bit about yourself in regards to what foods may be more problematic than others we will cut and paste from previous challenge ending posts below. Before we do though we wanted to thank all who participated. We have said this before and it was even more true this time around, we learn more from these challenges than you do and it helps us get better at what we do.
We would love to hear from everyone as we wrap this thing up. How did your experience go? If you made it through, what helped you stay strong? If you didn't, what made you break? What changes did you notice? What was particularly hard? What are your plans going forward? There are three ways you can do this.
- Leave us a comment letting everyone know about your experience.
- Send us an e-mail.
- Tell us in person
Those who made the whole 30 days congratulations! You have made significant growth in your mental and emotional strength and should be very proud of yourselves. Know that it is an ongoing battle though, and you need to keep your guard up even more as you loosen the reigns and find a way to work in some of the eliminated foods into your new routine. Look below for what you need to do when reintroducing foods you have eliminated.
Those who broke during the 30 days, don't beat yourself up over it and consider yourself a failure. It will only cause resentment and push you to find comfort in your old friends(Bagels, pizza, chocolate, ice cream). You have taken the first critical steps to better health, remember that is what this is all about. You are not doing this for anyone other than yourself and one slip up does not have to be a spiral out of control. Any day without processed crap, sugar, etc. is a day towards better health. Continue on your journey to better health and when those demons of instant gratification pop up and tell you you are a grown person and no one is going to tell you how to eat, ask yourself which is more important, your health or that sweet treat?
We have heard many things over the past 30 days from people doing the challenge and from people who ask us what we are doing when we politely decline a forbidden item. People say, "This is so hard!" "You have so much discipline." "It must be hard eating that way?" Guess what? It's not hard. Fighting cancer is hard. Spending a year fighting insurgents in Afghanistan is hard. Getting off of crack or heroine is hard. Being homeless is hard. Staying away from pizza, a cookie, or beer for 30 days is not hard. Especially when the stakes are so high. The real sad part is we have been conditioned to the point that eating nutrient dense, whole, natural, healthy foods is weird. We are the ones who are on that weird diet and asked why we eat "that way."
Unfortunately, we see almost daily how quality of life can be affected by failing health. We have loved ones who are missing out on significant life events because they don't have the physical ability to keep up and their physical failings are at least partly related to the foods they choose to eat. It is sad and, in truth, somewhat disappointing when we have clients and challenge members reversing conditions by taking charge of their lives and eating clean and we can't help those closest to us.
For closing this thing out, what you do over the next few days is more important than what you have done for the past 30.
This challenge has been called a cleanse and can be looked at that way. We are trying to get out most of the foods that are known to cause gut irritation and see how your body reacts. The goal being to then reintroduce these foods and see which ones work for you and which ones do not. This technique will not work if you reward yourself for your strength over the last 30 days by going out for pizza, beer, and ice cream. I can tell you now how you will feel afterward and the worst part is you will have no idea which foods caused problems. As we reach the end of this challenge, one option, the way we have settled into, is to keep those foods out for good. You have proven that you can deal without them. We do want you to find something that works for you, so if you feel you have to have some bread, grains, dairy, sweets or beans be smart about it. The trick is to start back slowly by reintroducing one thing at a time and see how your body responds. Start with cheese in your eggs on the first day or a glass of milk with dinner and see how you feel. If things go well, try some oatmeal for breakfast the next day or pasta for dinner. Pay close attention to how your body is responding and make adjustments as needed. If you have issues with food, the symptoms could range from sneezing and a stuffy nose to a full on bout of Montezuma's revenge, but rest assured your body will let you know.
We have reached a point where we do not eat grains, dairy, or legumes at all unless we make a conscious decision to go off our eating plan. This is mostly in the form of a family pizza night or an occasional trip to the ice cream store. We purposefully go out of the house, have our cheat and come back. This way the tub of Bryers mint chocolate chip, or the left over Ledo's pizza is not calling to you from the fridge. Eat it, enjoy it, and move on. Don't feel bad or guilty about it. We eat clean during the week, when our schedule is pretty much set and it is easier and loosen up a bit on the weekends. This could mean a glass(or three) of wine, some dark chocolate, possibly Jimmie Cone or Yogi Castle. After doing this for a few years, our cheats become less and less worth the day or two of discomfort that follows. One bad meal affects everything from our digestion, to our workout quality, to our sleep. It is just not worth it.
We hope this experience has raised your awareness of what you are putting into your body to fuel your everyday functions and ultimately your health. We hope that you have been empowered by the idea that you can have control over the emotional pull of food and the temporary comfort it provides. We want you to be very aware of the idea that if something is able to sit on a shelf for months and not spoil, it is probably not very good for you. We want to make sure that you are aware that vegetables are carbohydrates and a good meal has a quality protein, a fat, and a carbohydrate. Every Meal!
We eat this way because we feel that it has benefits far greater than just looking, feeling, and performing better. Not to sound too new wave or crunchy, (we are headed down that path) we believe strongly that the human body is a wondrous machine that is perfect in it's most natural state. It wants to be healthy, but we do our best to screw that machine up with what we expose it to through our environment, our lifestyle, and our diet. Giving your body the food it was meant to eat, exercising a little, and getting enough sleep will go a long way to repairing the damage we have done to ourselves.
If you ever have any question you can ask them in the comment section of any post and we will get them, or you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for joining us!
Dawn and Paul